Volume 8 of A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal will be released after Anaïs Nin’s 108th birthday, February 21, 2011.
This issue contains letters from Anaïs Nin, Hugh Guiler, and Rupert Pole, between 1975 and the end of 1977. Never seen before, these letters shed light on two very important considerations near and just after Nin’s death: first, the degree to which Nin’s marriage with Guiler had deteriorated; second, the amazing alliance Pole and Guiler forged after Nin’s death. Guiler’s very first letter begins:
Dear Rupert: As we are going to be communicating with each other from now on I think it is well that I do what I can to make things as easy as possible for us both, and I want to start by being quite frank with you.
And then he reveals that he had been aware of the “special relationship” that Pole and Nin had “for more than ten years.” In what could have been a bitter exchange, Guiler instead reached out to Pole, and the two men developed mutual sympathy and ultimately respect. Volume 8 contains the first two letters between Pole and Guiler and subsequent correspondence as well.
Nin’s illness and subsequent death was the backdrop for this group of letters, and her illness was something she never publicly discussed or wrote about, except in her unpublished diaries, The Book of Music and The Book of Pain. Now, one of Nin’s friends during the last two or three years of her life, Barbara Kraft, has written a memoir entitled Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, from which the preface and first chapter are included as an introduction to this difficult and mostly unknown period.
Most of us are aware of the effect Nin’s father’s abandonment had on Nin’s love life, of the psychological need to re-conquer him through other men, and finally by trysting with her father himself. But there were other ramifications as well, which Kim Krizan highlights in her article, “Anaïs Style.” Nin is known to have dressed exotically, to have created her own outfits, to always have stood out from the crowd no matter her age. Where did this fascination—and even obsession—come from? Krizan insightfully makes a connection between the scars left by Nin’s father’s abandonment—and perhaps just as importantly, his exclamation of “How ugly you are” when she was ill as a little girl—and her need to dress beautifully, to “de-uglify” herself. Using quotations from the childhood diary, Krizan makes her case that Anaïs Nin’s lifelong fascination with style was actually an act of self-healing.
Tristine Rainer, a friend of Nin’s, was also close to another Nin friend, Renate Druks, the heroine of Nin’s final novel, Collages. In a sometimes humorous and sometimes distressing film treatment, Rainer uses Druks’ own commentary to tell the saga of her torrid affair with a young and tragic sports hero, Ronnie Knox, in her “The Bohemian and the Football Player.”
Also in this issue are criticisms of Nin’s writing by Nin scholars Joel Enos and Sonya Blades; a critique of the relationship between Nin and Maya Deren by Japanese scholar Satoshi Kanazawa; an analysis of Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Henry and June for his movie of the same title by Anita Jarczok; a recollection of Rupert Pole’s father, Reginald Pole, by Harry Kiakis (followed by the editor’s research on the once-famous Shakespearian actor); the introduction to The Portable Anaïs Nin by Benjamin Franklin V; photography, art, fiction, poetry, and reviews.
A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal, Vol. 8 will be released in a limited edition, so be sure to reserve your copy now. You may order in three ways: by credit card; with PayPal; or by snail mail. Price is, as always, $15.00.
Reginald Pole, who was Rupert Pole’s father, referred to Anaïs Nin as his “daughter-in-law,” since he, like Rupert, believed that Anaïs and Rupert were legally married (when they married in 1955, Nin was married to Hugh Guiler, her first and only legal husband). Nin mentions Reginald in some extended passages in her Diary 5, passages that contrast his apparent genius for the stage and his dark, self-destructive personality. In A Café in Space, Vol. 8, which has just been released, Reginald Pole is highlighted in two different articles, one a personal recollection by Harry Kiakis, who was an acquaintance of the then elderly Reginald, and another which includes passages from Nin’s published and unpublished diaries and excerpts from a memoir by Reginald’s great love, Beatrice Wood, about their personal relationships with him.
All three writers witnessed Reginald’s quirky habits, his dozens of bottles of medicine surrounding him in darkened, musty hotel rooms, his penchant for wandering the streets late at night and sleeping until noon, his always-declining health which prompted Nin to consider him a manifestation of death, his clinging ways, his manipulativeness.
And yet, Reginald Pole, born in England, was once a heralded Shakespearian actor, a director, a writer, a playwright, working with John Barrymore and Boris Karloff and garnering rave reviews in the early part of the 20th century and the respect of the best in the stage business. His uncle was William Poel (a misspelling of his name that stuck), who revolutionized how Shakespeare was represented on the stage. Exposure to his uncle and an education at Cambridge, where, with Rupert Brooke, he founded the Marlowe Society, led Reginald to the stage quite naturally.
After a long but spotty career, Reginald died in the 1960s after a mostly agonizing physical life, torn by loneliness and ill health. Much of his work on the stage is largely forgotten, never having been recorded, and most of what is written about him centers on his formidable idiosyncrasies. Through excerpts from a long-lost essay by Reginald entitled “The Essence of Drama,” which was published by the English review Service, we can perhaps catch a fleeting glimpse of his great mind. He begins:
“The theatre is the playground of the human soul. Upon its stage all dreams of beauty that are expressible in terms of the physical brain of man may be brought into visible realization. It is the focusing point wherein can be merged the experiences of varied units of consciousness. Here is the true round table where the thoughts of the world’s great Art Templars are pooled. Here is the synthesis of all emotional forces that seek their freedom in the world of Art. For the Theatre is the congenial host of all the arts. None is unwelcome, for each here has its field. And to obtain the fullest power of life each art must welcome the service of its fellows.”
He criticized European and American theatre:
“America has reflected the best, and at times the worst, of Europe. As yet there is nothing new. That is to come. In the West the soil is fertile, and waits but for the grain… Modern Europe is not at all behind the Athenians. But the enormous output of theatrical trade and commerce tends to blind the issue. Yet the theatres and motion-picture houses, which make convenient sitting rooms for our tired and jaded neighbors, have no more in connection with the art of the theatre than the same neighbors’ photograph-albums have with the art of Rembrandt, or the clothes they wear with Byzantine tapestries. We must take them for granted, we who love the theatre, and pursue our own course free and unafraid. For that which we follow has the power that shakes the world.”
He concludes with:
“‘Art and Religion mutually condition each other,’ wrote Wagner; “these two form but one single organism.’ Every true artist knows this in his soul. The mission of Art, as that of Life itself, is to regenerate, or to fulfill, the Life of Man. Only with such aim is the greatest in art achieved. Only with such aim shall the Theatre fulfill itself, that man may be one with Nature, likest God.”
Beatrice Wood noted in a letter to Nin after Reginald’s death, “I, like you, sensed his heights and wish he could have stayed there…”
To see more or to order Vol. 8, click here.